To Dream or Not to Dream: A DREAM Act Summary

By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 09/20/2010
In Immigration



The topic of immigration reform — a hot-button issue lately — nearly always includes some mention of the DREAM Act.

Like many immigration issues, the DREAM Act is hard to understand without a succinct summary — why are people for or against it? What can it accomplish?

The DREAM Act in the News

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced that this week he will be moving a defense authorization bill that also would include a measure to pass the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act.

In summary, the DREAM Act would help undocumented students who have graduated from a US high school. The US government would provide financial aid and a path to citizenship in exchange for completing two years of higher education or two years of military service.

President Obama has pledged his support to the DREAM Act, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has announced its support of Sen. Reid’s bill. But not everyone supports the DREAM Act — and even proponents of the DREAM Act fear there are some flaws.

A Summary of DREAM Act Cons

In summary, the DREAM Act would allow undocumented minors in the US to prove that they entered the United States before the age of 16 and have been in the US for five consecutive years. After a background check (and if the students prove to have “good moral character”) they will be allowed in-state tuition and a shortened path to citizenship after either two years of studying toward a higher degree or two years of military service.

While right-wing opponents say the DREAM Act rewards illegal behavior and encourages further illegal immigration to the United States, opponents of the act from the political left call the act a military recruitment tool. It is true that the Pentagon was involved in drafting some early versions of the DREAM Act, figuring it would be an easier road to citizenship than that of higher education. So is the DREAM Act for the benefit of undocumented children in the US — or for the US military?

A Summary of DREAM Act Pros

Nearly 65,000 undocumented students graduate from US high schools every year. The American school system guarantees that all children can receive an education through the twelfth grade. After that, however, many undocumented students cannot go on to college — they are denied in-state tuition because of their illegal status, though many of the students have lived in the United States for most of their lives.

However, passing the DREAM Act would eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status.

The College Board stated that “in strictly economic terms, the contributions that DREAM Act students would make over their lifetimes would dwarf the small additional investment in their education beyond high school, and the intangible benefits of legalizing and educating these students would be significant.”

In summary, passing the DREAM Act would stop the punishment of children who came to the United States illegally, but through no fault of their own. Many came here when they were very young, speak English better than any other language, and really have no other place to call home. While the DREAM Act is not perfect, it is likely to have a positive effect on the tens of thousands of undocumented children in the US.


22 Responses to “To Dream or Not to Dream: A DREAM Act Summary”

  1. lisbet Says:

    i beleive that every one deserves to make their dreams come true. We are all equal in this world slash country. So i believe in the Dream Act !!!

  2. Erika Says:

    I think anyone who is caught being here illegally should have the option to either be deported or serve in the military for a certain amount of years. period.

  3. Gordon Says:

    Erika has it right. We need MORE deterrents to illegal alien growth, not fewer. Children of other criminals get no such favorable treatment.

  4. Tania Says:

    Many immigrant soldiers have died fighting in the military for a country that isn’t theirs. Immigrants provide a lot for this country it is time America gives back. The Dream Act should be approved! Equality is a natural right everyone should be treated equally

  5. Holly Says:

    These illegal alien children with their parents, should either be deported and allowed to apply to enter the US legally or just all be required to become citizens, process completed, before ANY benefits are received. Who is to say we will educate or allow them to serve in our military, when we don’t know where their loyalties lay.

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    I think the dream act is a good idea because after they go to college they can get jobs and be a good addition to society because they will pay taxes and give money back to the country. Also I believe everyone should have the chance at having a good education as long as they prove that they are willing to work for it and use it to benefit themselves.

  7. Jose Says:

    I am doing my National History Day project on the Dream Act so I am all for the Dream Act. And I would be say the best comment up there so far is Tania’s. She is completely right about that.

  8. Colin Says:

    Tania: The only thing you are right about is that the country isn’t theirs.
    Holly and Gordon: I couldn’t agree more.

  9. Anna Says:

    Eika, Colin,Holly, Gordon are EXTREMELY IGNORANT!

  10. Omar Says:

    First of all, the United States was built by immigrants. It’s sad that Americans these days have so much hate towards immigrants when everybody in this country are immigrants, except of course for Native Americans. I’m for the Dream Act. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to obtain a good education and succeed in life.

  11. romwell Says:

    i believe in dream act also cuz i mean we are all humans arent we? We have been in their steps before. Its not right to take down dream act. Cuz some people in the world are just afraid many immigrant will come here more. if you guys are afraid of that then why make more babies? Do you want to endanger your future babies? no right? why cant you just leave them inside unelss the baby is needed. Dream Act should be pass! cuz im doing this project and i want to see this pass!! Pass I say!

  12. Araceli Says:

    THE DREAM ACT must be passed. The DREAM act is only for those who graduated High School of have their GED. They are at least getting an education and doing something productive in their life. Now these kids who came illegally, its not their fault their parents wanted to have a better life and try to seek better opportunities. Then all of a sudden when they get older their path is completely blocked from learning because they don’t have their “papers”? Thats stupid. They have to pass it. HAVE TO. Ignorance and making Dumb laws like the SB1070 is just a sign that america is scared to allow some change.

  13. Lorraine Says:

    OMAR….the immigrants that BUILT this country came here LEGALLY!! It is called ELLIS ISLAND!! They got NOTHING for FREE! FIRST AND FOREMOST SHOULD BE THE ARMED FORCES…….THEN an education if they serve 4 years with an HONORABLE Discharge!!!!

  14. April Says:

    everyone is an immigrant when it comes down to it. people cannot just make laws of where people can & cannot be. for everyone who thinks immigrants should be deported just like that are heartless, they dont think about how they came in the first place for saftey maybe, would you go else where to protect your family? humans are humans have heart.

  15. Amanda Says:

    So we can give $50,000 dollars to EACH “undocumented” (nice word they use for illegal) immigrant who wants a education but for students that are US citizens who want an education GET NOTHING? And on top of that we get our classes cut down? Thanks dream act! I love how they say that we “dont have money” but then they pull a stunt like this. We should be focusing on our problems first before we go and help others. I believe that we are equals and everyone deserves better but for us to suffer from it…that is not ok.

  16. Amanda Says:

    Also we cant just go and spend money on others when we have students who are already pursuing an education and then since yet again we “dont have money to pay our professors” ..students are being dropped.

  17. keisha Says:

    I think it should be passed because doesn’t the bill of rights say all men are created equal so why cant immigrants and citizens be equal it doesn’t mater if we dont get $50,000 but its not fair that poor cjildren has to go back and start all over again sooo from my point of view i think it should be pass

  18. ANA Says:

    many of us have lived in the US all our lives and consider ourselves Americans but the reality is, we are illegal immigrants. i know many citizens who take for granted all the opportunities handed to them. they dont realize that some of us would do anything for those same opportunities. realize what you have people and keep in mind that not all illegals are criminals. YES FOR THE DREAM ACT BECAUSE SOME OF US DESERVE IT

  19. sharon Says:

    I believe this country wouldnt be the same without UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS! lets not refer to hard-working people who only come to this country to improve what we have, as “illegal aliens”. we are all human and all students who come here undocumented deserve the same education u.s citizens acquire. As a born u.s citizen that lives in a household of immigrants, i believe the Dream Act is necessary and for it to be rejected, its just an ignorant decision. let’s put aside the fact that there are ignorant and racist people commenting here, and lets remember that we live in a diverse country and there should be diverse people living here. They deserve the Dream Act!

  20. Peter Says:

    For those ignorants out there Today President Barack
    Deferred action is a type of prosecutorial discretion available to the president as part of routine immigration law. It allows the president to stop or suspend the deportation of an individual and to grant that person work authorization. Presidents from both parties have used deferred action frequently since 1971.
    Similar to the provisions of the House-passed version of the DREAM Act in 2010, anyone between the ages of 15 and 30 (who came to the United States before age 16) is eligible if they have been in the United States for at least five years, are in or have completed high school, are in the armed services currently or have been honorably discharged, and have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors.
    Roughly 1 million people will qualify. DREAMers not already known to the Department of Homeland Security will be able to come forward and apply for the deferred action.
    This is not amnesty Deferred action is only a temporary two-year status; it is not permanent residency. It isn’t a reward for anything, and it does not allow any immigrant to bring over their family members. Further, it does not bring a single extra person into the United States. These youth already live here. DREAMers will be able to apply for this status, and it will be decided on a case-by-case basis. This is not a blanket form of relief.
    This policy is neither a magnet for undocumented immigration nor a long-term solution to the problem. Only individuals who have been in the country for five years before today are eligible to apply for this temporary protection. It merely allows qualifying individuals to stop looking over their shoulder and start looking toward their future until Congress can overcome its paralysis.

  21. Lisa Says:

    While I do worry about the long term, economic impacts of the DREAM Act, I also believe that education is the best crime prevention tool. So, while I am not someone who is pro-illegal immigration (I believe this is a slap in the face to immigrants who have worked very hard to get here legally) I do not believe that children, who neither participated nor had a choice in coming here should be punished for the crimes of their parents. Illegal immigration is a HUGE problem in our naiton, but one that we can’t “deport” or “ignore” our way out of. I do feel strongly that since these folks are already here, we must figure out a way to make them as successful, motivated and loyal as possible. The best way to build loyalty to America is certianly not by treating them as third class people. These are, after all, chidren we are talking about here. But I do worry that mothers, desperate to do better for their kids, may be encouraged to bring their young children through dangerous conditions to America illegally to try to take advantage of this opportunity. What are the alternatives?

  22. Dalia Says:

    unlike some people here! you have to realize the” illegal allies as you call them work on jobs that i doubt citizens will ever work on..the United States should be thankful for every immigrate that works on labors from sun up to sun down exposing their bodies!!
    The DREAM act is helping many teens that finish high school and it not their fault for their parents choice for coming to the united states and trying to make a better living for them!! WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE AMERICAN DREAM

    AND AMANDA!!
    the citizen here have all the opportunities but they all take it for granted ! if they really want to keep studying they should work for it and not wait to get everything in their hand! open your eyes and realize what you just said its just sad… talking about racism i thought all that was over …
    i for the DREAM ACT THE UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE HAS DONE SO MUCH FOR THE UNITED STATES ITS TIME FOR THEM TO GIVE A SMITCH OF EVERYTHING THEY GAVE THIS NATION

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